What is Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer can occur in the soft tissues of the mouth, in the salivary glands, or in the bone associated with the oral cavity.  Although the majority are related to patients that smoke and drink heavily, worryingly the number of cancers in healthy individuals is rising.  Visiting the dentist regularly is therefore more important than it has ever been.  In 2010 there were 1,985 deaths from oral cancer in the UK alone.

What does it look like?

Oral cancer can occur from pre-existing lesions or healthy tissue from within your mouth.  It can range from anything between small red/white patches right up to large obvious growths with or without pain.  Hence the reason to attend the dentist even if you have no teeth!  Some photos of potentially cancerous lesions can be seen above and below.

What causes Oral Cancer?

Factors contributing towards Oral Cancer are:

  • Tobacco use (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco) is responsible for most cases of oral cancer. Alcohol, particularly beer and hard liquor, are associated with an increased risk.
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight in fair-skinned people can cause cancer of the lower lip.
  • Research is now ongoing into the effects of the diet on oral cancer, in relation to low vitamin A intake, high fat and red meat intake and low iron intake.
  • Some studies suggest that being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) may increase the risk of oral cancer.

In 2010 there were 1,985 deaths from oral cancer in the UK.  There is evidence to suggest that more women and more teenagers are increasingly smoking too.  Some ethnic groups also chew tobacco and betel nuts, both habits having a known link to oral cancer.

What can be done about it?

As with all cancers, early detection is key so treatment can be administered.  Your regular check-up is a good time for your dentist to check your entire mouth for signs of cancer. Regular check-ups can detect the early stages of oral cancer or conditions that may lead to oral cancer. Ask your dentist about checking the tissues in your mouth as part of your routine exam.

Call us today on 0141-445-1829 or book on-line now.

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